PSMinis review: Velocity

That Quarp Jet can do anything. Engaging the thrusters, it slams forward, trailing red tracers as it screams through a derelict space station. The station’s turrets have gone rogue. The Quarp Jet zips between their shots, tossing bombs left and right. The threat is neutralized.

A laser field looms, no gaps. The craft roars toward disintegration. Coolly, the pilot caresses the square button and nudges the stick forward. The ship vanishes.

It re-enters reality on the other side.

Velocity succeeds through speed. The game’s designed to be blown through, effortless controls becoming complicated only when compounded. Teleporting is damned easy, but try it while boost-bombing and you’ll frequently be crushed by the scrolling screen. Thankfully, your craft can contentedly crash into scenery, losing nothing to recklessness. Until the screen scroll claims its toll, as it will.

Halfway through, Velocity re-contextualizes its blistering speed, and that’s when I stopped having much fun. You gain the ability to place telepods, which you can warp back to whenever. The game actually does an amazing job streamlining this: the screen flashes blue to advise telepod placement at split paths. The map is clear, and warping simple.

But these split paths kill the game’s forward momentum. The last half of the game concerns itself with warping about, shooting switches to disable laser grids. I understand the developers’ reasoning. Since each level is timed, speed runs are stressed. Teleporting obfuscates obvious paths, and choice telepod placement shaves nanoseconds off the clock. Warping encourages replay and optimization.

It’s just not that thrilling. Placing telepods isn’t a cerebral experience; sacrificing thrills doesn’t transform it into a magnificent puzzler. Colored switches have never been the apex of videogame design, even if you’re hurling bombs at them. And the branching paths aren’t exploratory, either. You go the right way or the wrong way. Maybe you teleport back sooner rather than later, your great time ruined.

Velocity loses massive momentum after a sublime start, but don’t let me be too down on it. The first half is fantastic. The controls are brilliant. There are scads of bonus missions and mini-games. Even the switchey bits aren’t all bad.

And I love the Quarp Jet. Maybe not its sprite, but its abilities, its handling, its name.

Quarp Jet, engage thrusters. Hyperdrive in 3, 2, 1.

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2 Responses to “PSMinis review: Velocity”

  1. Bosstiger Says:

    Reblogged this on Gigable – Tech Blog.

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